Posted in Contemporary Fiction, Fiction, Science Fiction, Speculative Fiction, World Building

A Song for a New Day by Sarah Pinsker

Publication Info: Expected publication date September 10, 2019 by Berkley. Pre-pub Kindle edition courtesy of NetGalley

Summary: Due to a rash of bombings and shootings that killed thousands of people, the government passed the congregation laws. Public gatherings of more than two or three people in an area are prohibited. This changed the way restaurants and hotels function. Large office buildings are sometimes completely abandoned. There are no more movie theaters or concert venues. Traditional stores can no longer operate and have been subsumed into a huge, automated center called Superwally, that provides drone delivery service for everything anyone could need.

Rosemary, a young woman, still lives with her parents on their family farm. She works for Superwally from her bedroom via “hoodie space”, a virtual reality conduit. She is a tech troubleshooter. She’s never seen anything beyond the farm, is very isolated and is too young to remember “before”.

One day, Rosemary does some troubleshooting for a representative of StageHolo. He offers her a chance to see a StageHolo concert and sends her an upgraded hoodie. Rosemary is suddenly introduced to the larger virtual reality world, where people meet in cyberspace to hear music, dance, drink and share experiences.

The flashy concert brings some excitement into Rosemary’s dull life. She decides to apply for a job with StageHolo and leaves home for the first time. She is now a recruiting agent, looking for bands in hiding, playing in private homes and illegal clubs around the country.

She soon realizes she’s made a deal with the devil and determines to help the musicians she finds in a very different way.

Comments: A Song for a New Day is an amazing book. It projects from the current situation in the US to a not too distant future, where people live in fear and isolation. The book also addresses the loneliness and falsehoods in social media. People project avatars in hoodie space that homogenize them. This is a place where mega-corporations rule and the government dictates behavior. In our current world, laws that separate us are being passed now. Not to this extreme, but the seeds are being planted. We are living in fear of shooters at malls, concerts and schools.

I related to this book on multiple levels. I grew up in a suburb of Baltimore, where some of this book takes place. I used to play guitar and sing in small venues and coffee houses in the area. I saw those struggle to stay in business.

But most of all, I have been a resident in virtual reality for thirteen years. I know how it feels to attend cyberspace concerts and clubs, to have coffee with friends that I never meet in person. I have experienced deep isolation with most of my friends being just contacts on social media.

Sarah Pinsker hits the mark on so many points. I’ve become an instant fan of her writing and hope she writes more novels!

My Goodreads rating– 5 stars

Posted in Apocalyptic Fiction, Contemporary Fiction, General Fiction, Science Fiction, Speculative Fiction, Thrillers

Recursion by Blake Crouch

Publication Info: Published June 11th 2019 by Crown. E-book kindle edition courtesy of Netgalley.

Summary: Helena Smith, a neuroscience researcher, feels disheartened. Her project is about to run out of money and she’s nowhere near a solution. Driven by her desire to help her mother who is in the late stages of Alzheimer’s, Helena is trying to discover a way to preserve and restore memories. She’s on the verge of giving up when a mysterious man offers to fund her project beyond her wildest dreams. Recursion Crouch

Barry Sutton, an NYPD detective tries to talk a despondent woman, Ann Voss Peters,  down off the ledge of a high-rise. After a brief conversation with her, he realizes she is a victim of false memory syndrome. In her mind, Ann lives two lives. In one set of memories–her real memories–she lives single life in New York. In another, she remembers a husband and young son. Her second set of memories are in black and white, yet the emotions associated with them are completely real. After listening to her story, he tries to talk her out of suicide, but fails.

In alternating chapters, Helena and Barry narrate their stories, unaware that they are destined to meet and change the world–over and over.

Comments: Recursion is a genre jumping look into the repercussions of fear and power. In a book that blurs the lines between science fiction, apocalyptic fiction and thrillers, it has potential to appeal to a broad audience. There is even a G rated love story tossed in for good measure. I can envision this book translating well to film.

Highly recommended for readers of sci-fi, speculative fiction, apocalyptic fiction, thrillers and anyone who likes general fiction with a twist.